Journalism is a noble profession; over the years, those belonging to this profession have had to suffer a lot in order to protect their professional integrity and reputations. However, with the passage of time, deterioration in ethos has set in among many so-called journalists. Through their acts of omission and commission, they have reduced the integrity of this noble profession into a farce.
An article in Jang titled “Chalte Chalte” (August 20), which was written by Mr Shaheen Sehbai, reflects this deterioration of ethos. The allegations contained in the article are nothing more than a figment of Mr Sehbai’s imagination. He calls upon state institutions not to let the people named in the article flee the country because of their alleged involvement in corruption. These people include, among others, Salman Farooqui, Rehman Malik, Dr Asim Hussain, Faisal Raza Abdi, Babar Awan, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Hussain Haqqani and Farooq Naik.
While levelling these unfounded allegations, the writer failed to realise that there is an independent judiciary active in the country and many of the people he mentioned have already faced the court and proved their innocence. This fact was actually acknowledged by the writer himself; despite this, it is preposterous that he is still demanding that these people be investigated and arrested. What kind of journalism is this and what kind of ethos is it based on? To discover the truth, we need to look into Mr Sehbai’s past. He has been known to claim credit for drafting the Charter of Democracy but everyone knows that it were stalwarts of both the PML-N and the PPP who burnt midnight oil to make the charter possible.
Here, I am going to cite some of the predictions that Mr Sehbai has made in his articles over the last five years that will enable the readers to determine the veracity of his analysis. On August 6, 2010, in an article that appeared in The News and Jang, he claimed that a cold war was going on between the GHQ and the presidency and concluded that the days of the government were numbered. On September 17, 2010, he claimed that the MQM will soon part ways with the coalition government; the PML-N is poised to bring a no-confidence motion against the prime minister; the president will face impeachment and the apex Court will disqualify the prime minister. On July 25, 2011, he informed the nation about the formation of a government comprising 20 technocrats. On December 8, 2011, he claimed that the president had been admitted to a Dubai hospital due to an ailment and since recovery from that ailment is not possible, he will not return to Pakistan.
However, it is known to all that the president soon returned to the country; there was no coup by the army; and the then prime minister bowed before the decision of the apex Court to avoid a clash of institutions. It is unfortunate that all his false and absurd predictions failed to restrain him from making more such predictions. Now, Mr Sehbai is calling upon state institutions to arrest the 29 persons mentioned by him. There is, indeed, financial corruption in Pakistan but to launch a crusade against it while sitting in the US is not appropriate. He should come to Pakistan and then expose all wrongdoing through substantial evidence and not through mere speculation and conjecture, which lead one to think that he has ulterior motives.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2012.